Campus News

UGA College of Veterinary Medicine presents Phi Zeta honors to faculty, students

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recently recognized outstanding faculty and students with honors for excellence in teaching, research and service at its annual Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society Induction Ceremony.

The Zoetis Award for Excellence in Research was given to Donald Harn for his research defining the immunological response to schistosomiasis, developing novel therapies for various autoimmune disorders and testing novel HIV-1 vaccine candidates. Examples of Harn’s accomplishments include possible therapies for psoriasis, autoimmune encephalomyelitis and diabetes, as well as the prevention of human schistosomiasis through the vaccination of animal reservoirs. Harn is a professor of infectious diseases and a Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator.

The Clinical Research Award was presented to Dr. Kelsey Hart for her work in understanding the interactions between the immune and endocrine systems during critical illness in foals and also the role of equine metabolism in general. Neonatal sepsis is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in foals. Critical illness-related cortisol insufficiency, or CIRCI, due to adrenal gland dysfunction can be an important complication in septic foals and septic people. Hart is currently working with multiple treatment centers to evaluate a low-dose hydrocortisone treatment regimen for septic foals, research that may lead to better understanding and treatment of CIRCI in septic people. Hart is an assistant professor of large animal medicine.

The John M. Bowen Award for Excellence in Animal/Biomedical Research was given to Dr. Kaori Sakamoto for her work in understanding the mechanisms associated with manipulation of the innate immune response to pathogens in vertebrates. Her primary research emphasis is in the study of macrophages, particularly the immunology of tuberculosis and other mycobacterial diseases. Sakamoto is an assistant professor of pathology.

The Outstanding Hospital Service Award was presented to Dr. Jane Quandt, a professor of anesthesiology, for providing exceptional service to faculty, staff and students in both the large and small animal departments as well as exceptional patient care to all patients.

The Charles Dobbins Award for Excellence in Service was awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Howerth for her service to the college and the veterinary pathology profession. Howerth’s expertise and interest in diseases of exotic animals were instrumental in the formation of the UGA Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service, a partnership that combines the expertise of researchers from the UGA Infectious Diseases Laboratory, based in the department of small animal medicine and surgery, and pathologists from the college’s department of pathology. The service provides pathology support to Zoo Atlanta and other zoological parks. Howerth also heads her department’s surgical pathology service and manages the residency program in anatomic pathology. She is an active member of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

The Outstanding Laboratory Service Award was presented to Dr. Uriel Blas-Machado for his efforts to expand the services offered by the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to include marine mammals and laboratory animals, which have helped the lab boost its caseload and revenue. Blas-Machado is an associate professor of pathology.

The Morrow B. Thompson Award was presented to Dr. Andrew Bugbee, a third-year resident in small animal internal medicine. The award is presented annually to a senior student, resident or graduate student who excels in veterinary clinical pathology. It is given in memory of its namesake, who received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from UGA in 1976.

The David Tyler Award for Advances in Teaching was awarded to Dr. Kelsey Hart, who teaches in all four years of the veterinary curriculum. Hart developed one of the first iBooks in the college that integrates text, still images, 3-D animations and video. The book is currently being used to teach a neurology course and a physical diagnosis class. She is a current UGA Teaching Academy Fellow.

Matthew Beeson received the Outstanding Sophomore Student Award for having the highest cumulative grade point average in the second-year class. As part of his award, Beeson will serve as vice president on the Phi Zeta committee for one year.

Fifteen students, who were nominated by their peers, were recognized for their leadership, service and outreach in the community, their place of worship, the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, student clubs or veterinary fraternities. The following students received Phi Zeta Leadership, Service and Outreach awards: Stephanie Pullin from the class of 2013; Jennifer Covington, Alan Power and Elizabeth Rivers from the class of 2014; Amanda DiMascio, Alyson Frederick, Katie Griner, Thomas Griner, Alessandra Keenan and Atticus Mabry from the class of 2015; Will Basinger, Karen Christ, Jed Darden, Megan Mathews and Jennifer Munhofen from the class of 2016.

New inductees into the Phi Zeta Honorary Society were Samantha Baker, Nicole Balsone, Shawna Buerkle, Elizabeth Clemmons, Steven Costello, Shannon Day, Amber Hines, Virginia Poorbaugh, Stephanie Pullin, Claudia Reyner, Erin Schellinger, Heather Trelease, Jennifer Trzcinski, Eleanor Warner and Travis White from the class of 2013; and Sarah Blanton, Erin Edwards, Kari Fine, Jenna Gilkeson, Robert Holly, Kirsten Jacobs, Ameyalli Rios Alba, Courtney Sampson, Jenna Shafer and Amanda Vance from the class of 2014.

One member of the college’s faculty was inducted this year. Dr. Ira Roth is a clinical assistant professor and director of the Community Practice Clinic.

Eight residents and graduate students who were inducted are Dr. Paola Cazzini, Dr. Sheryl Coutermarsh-Ott, Dr. Jennifer Dill, Dr. Monique Silva Franca, Dr. Karelma Frontera-Acevedo, Dr. Nicole Nemeth and Dr. Victoria Watson, all from the department of pathology. Dr. Shawn Zimmerman of the department of infectious diseases also was inducted.

Honorary inductees were Shelly Helms, a research coordinator for high-containment lab training and oversight in the department of infectious diseases, and Lynn Reece, a registered veterinary technician who works with the college’s researchers.

Winners of the Phi Zeta Manuscript Competition were Dr. Annie Page-Karjian for her study on the “Presence of chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus in tumored and non-tumored green turtles, as detected by polymerase chain reaction, in endemic and nonpendemic aggretations, Puerto Rico” and Dr. Erin McConachie for her study on “Doppler and Volumetric Echocardiographic Methods for Cardiac Output Measurement in Standing Adult Horses.”

This year’s speaker was Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt, a professor of internal medicine in the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society was formally established in 1925 at Cornell University for the advancement of the veterinary profession, for higher educational requirements and for high scholarship. Phi Zeta recognizes and promotes scholarship and research in matters pertaining to the welfare and diseases of animals.

There are 27 chapters of Phi Zeta throughout the U.S. The Xi chapter of Phi Zeta was established in 1959 at the University of Georgia.

UGA College of Veterinary Medicine
The College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946 at UGA, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, conducting research related to animal and human diseases and providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 800 who apply. For more information, see

UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
The current College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, built in 1979 at UGA, serves more than 20,000 patients per year in one of the smallest teaching hospitals in the U.S. The college is currently working to raise $33 million toward building a new veterinary medical learning center, which will include a new teaching hospital as well as classrooms and laboratories that will allow for the education of more veterinarians. For more information, see